Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 0 Torquay United

   Saturday 12/07/2008   Friendly
Alan Reidy

It always happens, the first pre-season match of the season is a guaranteed sunny affair, and Him upstairs didn’t disappoint on a balmy July afternoon as the Gulls of Torquay United visited Ladysmead, and were sent packing back to their holiday homes on the Riviera with their tails between their legs and a 1-0 defeat to chew over. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, and while United’s loyal band of supporters are well aware that ‘results aren’t everything’ at this stage, they will be left scratching their heads as manager Paul Buckle scratches his, and scratches around for the missing links that were so apparent.



The visitors began the game with their strongest possible starting line-up, missing Steve Woods and Roscoe D’Sane but otherwise at full strength. The difference of two divisions was initially clear and United pinned back Tiverton, resplendent in their new yellow attire, and boasting three new signings and a French goalkeeper named after 007’s favourite tipple. Pierre Martini was shaken early on as he failed to pluck a pair of routine crosses from the air, but Tom Gardner was never far away and bailed out the goalkeeper with crucial clearances. Martini soon found his range and pulled off a double save to deny first Matt Green and then Tim Sills as Torquay had their hosts on the back foot for the first twenty minutes.



On one of few occasions that Tiverton managed to work some meaningful possession in the opposition’s half of the pitch they found it difficult to break though a Gulls’ defence marshalled beautifully by the greatly experienced Chris Hargreaves, and it was left to the tenacious Tom Knighton to send a long-range shot sailing into the Devco car park. The action returned to the opposite end and Sills fluffed a glorious change when he met Lee Hodges teasing left wing cross but nodded the ball a yard over the crossbar. It was typical of what was to come throughout the afternoon – good possession, good build-up play, and a weak final touch.



Hargreaves headed a corner, again too high, and the impressive Danny Stevens dragged a shot hopelessly wide of the upright after Chris Vinnicombe’s mistake in the penalty area led to a scramble with the ball ultimately breaking to the left where Stevens was in space. It should have been the final action of a one-sided opening period, but thankfully for Tivvy the referee found reason to add an extra couple of minutes to the half, and on a rare counter attack Mark Saunders was on hand to ram a low shot into the bottom corner. Torquay ‘keeper Martin Rice hadn’t had a save to make to that point, and let his teammates down when he was finally called into action. Paul Buckle cited after the match the need for a goalkeeper to be brought into the squad; not an intentional criticism of Rice, but a reality all the same.



United made eight changes at half time, causing a stir in Sepp Blatter’s office and introduced a host of fringe players and trialists. The changes upset the flow of the game, and with Tiverton making a pair substitutions too the second half was a different game altogether. Bobby Hopkinson sliced a free-kick into the stand behind Rice’s goal, and moments later United’s fresh-legged forward Elliot Benyon, once a goalscorer for Tiverton, carved open the Town defence only for Glenn Gould to hack the ball away as Benyon was about to pull the trigger.



Ten minutes into the second half Torquay blundered a chance to level the game – Adam Faux upended Nikola Nikolec in the area, the travelling supporters cheered, and Lawrence Yiga struck the penalty kick. Lacking power Martini dived to his right and saved easily on the line, and the home supporters cheered. Matt Villis headed over the top at the other end soon afterwards, but the game was fractured beyond repair as Tivvy introduced a further four substitutes, and only a weak effort from Knighton with fifteen minutes remaining had the press-box scrambling for their

notepads.



Tiverton Town: Pierre Martini; Danny O’Brien (Arran Pugh 46), Chris Vinnicombe, Matt Villis, Adam Faux (Adam Kelly 84), Tom Gardner (Brendan O’Boyle 76), Radley Veale (Alex Faux 64), Bobby Hopkinson, Jamie Densham (Joe Allinson 71), Mark Saunders (Glenn Gould 46), Tom Knighton



Torquay United: Martin Rice; Lee Mansell (Chris Robertson 46), Chris Todd (Michael Brough 46), Chris Hargreaves (Mark Ellis 46), Kevin Hodges (Kevin Nicholson 46), Danny Stevens, Nicky Wroe (Steve Adams 46), Tyrone Thompson, Wayne Carlisle (Nikola Nikolec 46), Tim Sills (Elliot Benyon 46), Matt Green (Lawrence Yiga 46)

This report ©2008 Alan Reidy






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